National Democratic Assembly Party Press Release

12.01.2009

Twelve students were arrested and many more assaulted and injured, one of whom hospitalized, during a demonstration arranged by the Arab students of Haifa University against the Gaza massacre. The University administration called for the interference of the police and Special Forces, who entered the campus in order to suppress the demonstration and prevent the students from expressing their solidarity with the people of Gaza and their anti-war attitude.

Earlier, the Arab students had decided to go on strike as an act of protest against the ongoing war on the Palestinian people in Gaza, the bombardment and daily killing of children and civilians. As part of the protest act, they gathered close to the entrance of the university in a sort of silent demonstration, carrying anti-war slogans. In a highly astonishing and uncommon step, the administration of the university decided to call security forces into the campus, to suppress and disperse the Arab demonstrators. As mentioned, 12 students were arrested, and dozens were brutally attacked; one student even needed medical treatment and was taken to hospital.

Among the detainees was Mr. Awad Abdel-Fattah, the Secretary General of the National Democratic Assembly Party and member of the Arab High Follow Up Committee, who was called by the students to witness the racist and brutal practices of the security forces against Arab students. Mr. Abdel-Fattah was beaten, arrested and kept in detention for 24 hours.

It should be noted here that acts of protest and freedom of expression, even when those do not fall within a given consensus, should be allowed at places that claim- and are perceived- to be liberal and supportive of these values, especially universities and academic institutions. The decision to call in police forces into the campus de-legitimizes the right of Arab students to express their views, and by doing so, Haifa University joins the official Israeli policy of Iron Fist, de-legitimization and intimidation against the Palestinian minority in Israel which the Israeli establishment has been practicing since the October 2000 events.

Following their arrest, the students were taken to hearings for the extension of detention. Two female students were released following the intervention of Arab Lecturer at the University, Dr. Mahmoud Yazbak, who protested to the administration of the University against the calling of the police, and demanded that the administration make an effort to release the detainees. After a day-long hearing, with testimonies from eye witnesses who testified that the students were attacked by the police and not vice versa, the students were released with restriction orders preventing them from going to the university and resuming their studies for two weeks, some even with house arrests.

The NDA condemns the decision of the university which is supposed to be a place that harbors and educates for human rights, democracy and freedom of expression. We consider the university to be a full accessory to the brutal suppression, silencing and de-legitimization of Arab students. The university cannot claim otherwise, as other cases of police behavior with Arab demonstrators made the consequences of their intervention clear and well-anticipated!